July 22, 2014

Lawyer in Trouble Over Medical Malpractice Case

Our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys know that an experienced and committed attorney is invaluable for any case. And when an attorney does not do his or her job, it jeopardizes a client's case and also the achievement of justice. A medical malpractice case involving a Georgia lawyer who mishandled the case was in the news recently.

Doc.jpg

Mike Berlon surrendered his legal license to the Supreme Court of Georgia. He is a former chairman of the Democratic Party in Georgia, a position he held until summer of 2013, and practiced law in Gwinnett County. He received a reprimand last summer from the Supreme Court and was pressured to resign as Democratic Party chairman by Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed. The medical malpractice case that is at issue began in June 2010. Mr. Berlon was concerned about the expiration of the statute of limitations in that case, but did not inform his client. In an opinion on the issue from the Supreme Court, the Court said he told his client that he "believed there was sufficient time in which to file an action and falsely led her to believe that he was actively working on the case by sending a demand letter, contacting expert witnesses, and preparing to file an action." In reality, Mr. Berlon never filed any action on behalf of the client and continued to give her bad advice through the beginning of 2012. Not only was the case handled so badly, but the Supreme Court also found that Mr. Berlon's responses to the complaint about the case with the Georgia State Bar also contained "factual misrepresentations."

It is also not the only incident of misconduct by Mr. Berlon. He also reached a settlement with two other former clients in an unrelated case to reimburse them for over $1 million. That money was to establish an estate trust, but Mr. Berlon allegedly used the money for personal things. However, as of April 2014, that money was still not returned to the clients. When asked about it, he said, "There's a lot more to it. I'm confident that once we get through the entire process that this is all going to work out."

Mr. Berlon told reporters that surrendering his legal license over the medical malpractice case was "the right thing to do." About this issue, he said, "There's really no other side of the story to tell. My office was hired to handle a malpractice case for somebody and basically we didn't get it right. I'm ultimately responsible for that. We just missed it. There were some errors that were made." He continues to believe he will be readmitted as an attorney in Georgia in the future and he has received other offers for "a lot of different things."

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyers


If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent medical professional, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. This case shows clearly how important it is to have a good lawyer on your side when dealing with a medical malpractice case, or any case. To discuss any steps to move forward with legal options for the abusive situation, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: Funky64 (www.lucarossato.com) via Compfight cc

See Our Related Blog Posts:
2500 Georgia Doctors Don't Have Malpractice Insurance
Georgia Medical Malpractice Bill Being Considered

July 15, 2014

Nursing Home Worker Accused of Elder Abuse

Our Atlanta elder abuse attorneys read an article about an employee of a nursing home in Thomasville being accused of elder abuse. That employee is Shauntavia Bates, a 25-year-old who worked at Southern Pines Senior Living. On May 16, police allege that Ms. Bates hit an elderly 81-year-old woman and sprayed her with water as she called for help. Another employee heard her cries and went to investigate. The other employee said she saw the elderly woman standing in the shower and Ms. Bates was forcing water into her mouth. The woman could not speak at that point because her mouth was too full of liquid. The other employee also saw Ms. Bates hit the woman with the back of her hand on her neck.

10454220916_c9beae9735_m.jpg

Another woman, Ms. Bates' supervisor Stacey Sams, was allegedly told about the abuse and did not report it. Ms. Sams has now also been charged for failure to report abuse of a disabled or elderly person, which is a misdemeanour crime.

The police were only notified of this incident in June. Ms. Bates was arrested in June, one day after the incident was reported. Ms. Sams turned herself in a few days after Ms. Bates' arrest. Thomasville Police Department spokesperson Lieutenant Eric Hampton said, "Disturbing when you hear these kind of things happen. We take it very seriously when it's reported to us and so we do take immediate action." He further said, "The reason Ms. Sams was charged in the case is because she failed to report it after the witness had reported it to her." Southern Pines Senior Living said they brought the incident to the police when they learned of it and are cooperating in the investigation.

Ms. Bates denies the whole incident and says she is innocent. She told reporters, "It breaks my heart because I have three kids, two step kids. I am a wife, my heart goes out to the elderly." Of the incident, she said, "I washed her hair, gave her a shower, the same way that I would do if 1,000 people we're watching." She also said, "The detective asked what would I do different, I'd still go in and give a shower the same exact way, I wouldn't change anything at all." Ms. Bates insists she would never harm anyone, that she worked at Southern Pines because she wanted to help people, and that she is looking forward to clearing her name.

Ms. Bates was released from jail on a $5,100 bond and the Thomasville Police Department is still trying to determine why this alleged abusive incident may have happened.

Atlanta Elder Abuse Lawyers


If an elderly loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss any steps to move forward with legal options for the abusive situation, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: Neil. Moralee via Compfight cc

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Home for Senior Citizens Involved in Exploitation Case
Victim of Elder Abuse Dies Before Getting Her Day in Court

July 3, 2014

Lawsuit Against DFCS for Wrongful Death of Teen

This blog has discussed cases against Georgia's Division of Family and Child Services (DFCS) before (see previous blog here). Our Atlanta wrongful death lawyers recently read about yet another tragic case involving a child, a 16-year-old disabled girl named Markea, who died under tragic circumstances, and under watch of the department that is supposed to protect child welfare in our state.

Funeral.jpg

Markea's mother hated her, and her grandmother said she did not know why Ebony Berry had so much hatred for her daughter, saying, "She punished her. She hated her daughter." Markea died of starvation in 2012, and her mother is in Cobb County Jail charged with the crime. At a hearing on the case of her death, investigators said Markea weighed less than 50 pounds. Cobb County Detective Christopher Twiggs said of her, "I could see most of the bones in her body. There was hardly any muscle mass left. Just a skeleton with skin is the way I could best describe it."

There were worrisome reports from Michigan's DFCS for the years 1999 to 2004, but they were incomplete and Georgia DFCS did not followed up on them. The State of Georgia has a 150 page case file on Markea, which chronicles the long-term abuse she suffered. As early as 2005, a DFCS caseworker found her isolated and unfed. The case file was started in 2009. Even from that time, the case file said she was "very thin" and caseworker was concerned she was not being fed. Markea, who was 14 years old at the time, was found in 2010 hiding at a Wal-Mart, afraid to go home. She told investigators she often went there to sleep. She said she'd rather stay at Wal-Mart than go home because she was a burden to her mother. At that time, DFCS investigated but took no further action because Ebony Berry would not cooperate. In June 2012, Ebony Berry called 911 saying her daughter was not responsive. Detectives found that she had been starved and charged her mother with murder.

Now the administrator of Markea's estate has filed a $1 million lawsuit against DFCS for wrongful death. The lawsuit is seven pages showing all the ways DFCS failed Markea. This includes an affidavit from a veteran social worker outlining missteps and clear red flags, constituting negligence in her opinion, and that "a proper DFCS investigation is likely to have prevented Markea Berry's death by starvation."

Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorneys


If a loved one has died unnecessarily due to the negligent conduct of another, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss any steps to move forward with legal options in your case, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: PixaBay User

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Settlement for Electrocution Wrongful Death
Wrongful Death Case Against DFCS

July 1, 2014

Appeals Court Upholds Nursing Home Conviction

Our Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers have followed the case of George Houser (see previous blog post here) since he was convicted of fraud in 2012. This month the case was in the news again, as the federal appeals court upheld that conviction.

Old Man.jpg

George Houser, 66 years old, was convicted in 2012 of conspiracy to defraud Medicare, failure to file quarterly tax returns, and failure to file income taxes in a four-week long trial and a 471 page judgment. This is all related to his role as a nursing home operator in Georgia, where he had two nursing homes providing "worthless services." The two nursing homes were in Rome, Georgia, and Houser also managed a third nursing facility between 2003 and 2007. The homes had insufficient staff and inadequate budgets. There were numerous physical problems: leaky roofs flooding residents' rooms, no air conditioning or heating, broken laundry facilities, and bug infestations. Some residents were severely malnourished, losing weight while they stayed in the nursing homes. Mr. Houser allegedly told his staff to use their own money to buy the residents bread and milk, so they would not starve. Additionally he avoided paying payroll taxes on his employees and made infrequent payments to the IRS during the years at issue, and many of the checks he did send bounced. From this horrific scheme, the trial court found that Mr. Houser gained $2.28 million, put into his personal bank account, another $460,000 in his wife's account, and $1.75 million in an account for his construction company between 2003 and 2007. With that money, he bought $4 million worth of property, luxury cars, and made alimony payments.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Mr. Houser sought reimbursement from Medicare and Georgia's Medicaid for services, such as pharmaceutical, diagnostic, medical, and dietary, that were not provided. The Court rejected Mr. Houser's contention that he didn't "wilfully" avoid paying taxes. The Court upheld Mr. Houser's conviction and his 20-year prison sentence, plus more than $7 million in restitution to his victims. It also upheld the restitution of $870,000 to the IRS. The Appeals Court found that the trial court did not err in its April 2012 conviction and the evidence clearly supported the trial court's decision, stating, "On appeal, Mr. Houser does not contest the deplorable conditions of his nursing homes; indeed, he recites, in detail, those conditions in his opening brief." The decision also found, "We believe that this record, taken as a whole, reveals that Mr. Houser apprehended his obligation to pay over payroll taxes, but voluntarily and intentionally chose to spend available funds on the acquisition of personal goods and investment properties as opposed to satisfying his legal obligations. The record, therefore, amply supports the district court's conviction."

Mr. Houser is currently serving his prison sentence at a federal prison in Ashland, Kentucky.

Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys


If a loved one has suffered from abuse in a nursing or care home, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss your case and any steps to move forward with legal options to get any needed compensation, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: Nicolas Alejandro Street Photography via Compfight cc

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Crackdown on Illegal Nursing Care Homes
Tragic Georgia Nursing Home Abuse Case Ends

June 19, 2014

Crackdown on Illegal Nursing Care Homes

Our Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers know that unlicensed nursing care homes are a problem in our state, which is why the Georgia Department of Community Health is partnering with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to crack down on these unlicensed homes, according to news reports.

Old Woman.jpg

The partnership also includes the Adult Protective Services, which is under the Department of Human Services. The group will be aggressive in working to stop unlicensed homes from staying in business. Clyde Reese, the commissioner of the Department of Community Health, said the facilities deliver "substandard care to the elderly and disabled." The unlicensed homes are operating throughout Georgia, and many are near Atlanta and in southwest Georgia. Mr. Reese contends that it is a growing problem and that there are hundreds of unlicensed homes in the state, along with increased incidents of elder abuse. This is exacerbated by the vulnerable nature of seniors, who are often unable to defend themselves or even speak up about abuse. And to avoid legal troubles, unlicensed homes often switch residences.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations intends to share intelligence and data gathering with the Department.

With sponsorship from Representative Sharon Cooper, the General Assembly of Georgia passed a new law earlier this year strengthening penalties for running an unlicensed nursing home. Now the first offense of abuse or neglect or exploitation is a felony in Georgia. The discussion of this law in the Assembly included horrible examples of abuse to demonstrate the clear need for a tougher legal regime. In Cobb County, an unlicensed nursing home kept a 50 year old patient with dementia in a garage that was "sweltering hot" and deprived the woman of food and medicine. Under the old legal regime, the responsible unlicensed care home owner got a one-day jail sentence after a plea bargain for time served. In addition to cases of physical abuse, exploitation is also a serious problem. Unlicensed care home owners trick elderly patients into signing over retirement checks and Social Security checks. The story of Alzheimer's Care of Commerce where felons were employed, who then assaulted, restrained and over-medicated patients seemed to be a turning point in getting attention on the serious issue of unlicensed homes and elder abuse. Twenty people were arrested and there is an ongoing investigations into whether some of the deaths at the home were homicides.

Care in licensed facilities also needs scrutiny. Mr. Reese told reporters that the Department will have a re-bidding for contracts to coordinate care of the elderly and disabled under Medicaid and will begin next month, with more details to follow. The last bidding process came in over budget.

Atlanta Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys


If an elderly loved one has been the victim of elder abuse or is in an unlicensed nursing care home, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss your family's case and any steps to move forward, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: Nicolas Alejandro Street Photography via Compfight cc

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Nursing Home Identity Theft Case
Home for Senior Citizens Involved in Exploitation Case

June 13, 2014

Boy Mauled By Pit Bull in March Still Recovering

Dog bites have been in the news in recent weeks because of the video that went viral of a dog attacking a little boy, who was then saved by his pet cat. Our Atlanta dog bite lawyers read about another courageous little boy who is still recovering after being attacked by a pit bull dog. Jasper Poole, who is only four years old, was attacked by a relative's pit bull when it was let outside. The dog bit the little boy's leg and dragged him down stairs. Schley County Sheriff Shane Tondee said when police arrived, "We found a pit bull dog that had blood on him, blood on his face, and blood all over the door, the deck, and the ledge where the incident happened."

Pitbull.jpg

Recovery Included Surgery Physical Therapy


Two months later, Jasper still had a large wound on his leg, which required 300 stitches. The wounds included a severed calf muscle. The little boy has already gone through two surgeries. His mom, Lezlie Poole, said, "We come here three days a week, and we see a surgeon one day a week, we had to get a custom boot made for us that helps stretch his calf muscle so there's a lot that goes into that." His parents say he's in high spirits, but he has to learn to walk again. Of his physical therapy, his mom said, "It's like play time for him, he calls it working out. He gets to go to the gym and work out so he gets excited to do that."
With the surgeries and physical therapy, Ms. Poole isn't sure their medical insurance will cover everything, due to the extent of Jasper's injuries. She is thankful for support from the community, and also the hospitals and surgeons, and said, "[T]hey've been so good with him especially since he's so young." She also says Jasper now is very afraid of dogs. She said, "We can't walk down the street if there's a dog that's being walked, we go into a panic attack and we just cry and just cling to me or my husband."

Georgia is 10th in the country for dog bite claims; the insurer State Farm alone paid about two million dollars in dog bite claims in 2013. This shows what a serious problem it is for our state, and how we need to work together to find ways to promote responsible dog ownership. The dog owners said that this pit bull was not known to be violent and had never behaved this way before, but Jasper's case shows how much care needs to be taken with dogs, especially around vulnerable small children like Jasper.

Atlanta Dog Bite Attorneys


If you or a loved one has been attacked or bitten by a dangerous dog, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss the specifics of your case and any steps to move forward in legal avenues to help pay for any injuries, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: Nebojsa Mladjenovic via Compfight cc

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Elderly Man Attacked by Dogs
Pit Bull Bites Six-Year-Old Boy In The Face

June 6, 2014

2500 Georgia Doctors Don't Have Malpractice Insurance

Our Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys read recent news about an Atlanta-Journal Constitution investigation about doctors in Georgia practicing without medical malpractice insurance. The investigation, analyzing state data, found that more than 2,500 doctors are doing this in Georgia, including dozens who have been previously disciplined by the state medical board for things like sexual misconduct, drug use, and patient deaths. While 18 other states have laws mandating malpractice insurance or have methods for compensating injured patients, Georgia only encourages doctors to get insurance.

Doc.jpg

AJC analysed state medical board data that was collected under a 2011 law requiring licensed doctors to inform the board if they have malpractice insurance. There are more than 29,000 licensed doctors in Georgia that provided this information, and 2,536 of them admitted they didn't have insurance. Another 3,000 didn't provide the information. These numbers mean a little less than eight percent of doctors with medical licenses aren't insured.

This is even more worrying because, while some are doing research, teaching, administration or are retired, the investigation did random checks and found more than a dozen still treating patients. And 113 of the approximately 2,500 have been previously sanctioned and nine are currently still on probation. One has a $900,000 malpractice judgment against him, another did several unnecessary surgeries and was disciplined for it, and yet another who is prohibited from treating cancer patients now because several of his patients ended up injured or dead.

This is a major problem because if a doctor commits malpractice and harms a patient, that patient and their family have few to no options to get compensation to help pay for those injuries. The doctor him or herself would still be liable, but that could still leave injured patients with almost nothing depending on the doctor's assets. Dr. Gerald Hickson of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine said, "I know of no good way to understand that. I feel very strongly that it's one of our professional duties to be prepared to do the right thing in the face of an adverse event."

There is also another problem in that this information has not been published and Georgians had no way to know about these doctors until the AJC investigation. The 2011 law requires the information be collected when doctors renew their medical licenses every two years and then published online in doctor profiles. But as of yet, this online publishing has not been done. The website still needs updating and that hasn't been funded. Officials hope the information will be available online next year.

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorneys


If you or a loved one has been hurt by a negligent medical professional, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss the specifics of your case and any steps to move forward in legal avenues to help pay for any injuries and suffering, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: Life Mental Health via Compfight cc

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Doctors Still Practicing After Losing Their Licenses
Georgia Medical Malpractice Bill Being Considered

June 3, 2014

Georgia Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Movie Filming

Our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys read about a tragic story from the filming of the movie Midnight Rider.

Freight Train.jpg

The movie, a biopic of Gregg Allman, was filming in February when a freight train crashed on a historic train trestle in Doctortown, Georgia. The crew were told only two trains would pass on the stretch of railway. The crew waited until two trains had passed to place a metal bed on the tracks for a dream sequence involving the actor William Hurt, who was playing Gregg Allman. At about 4:30 p.m., another train came at high speed. To try to avoid the oncoming train, crew members tried to run away, but not all of them got off the bridge in time. One that did not was Sarah Jones, a 27-year-old second camera assistant who was hit by the train and debris from the bed. Ms. Jones died of her injuries from the accident.

Sarah Jones was from South Carolina and started her film career as an intern on the set of the TV show Army Wives, where she was one of the most popular crew members. Her parents, Richard and Elizabeth Jones, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Chatham County State Court last week, alleging negligence causing Sarah's death. The lawsuit names as defendants: movie producer Randall Miller, who is also the director of Midnight Rider; his wife Jody Savin; their production company Unclaimed Freight Productions; local production partner Meddin Studios; CSX Transportation; Open Road Films, the company that planned to distribute the film; unit production manager Jay Sedrish; first assistant director Hillary Schwartz; and Gregg Allman himself, as an executive producer.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of a long list of safety violations, which they claim caused Sarah Jones' death. These violations include that they didn't have permission to film on the railway and mislead the crew that they did have permission. The suit also claims that the producers didn't take proper safety precautions, which should have included a safety meeting before filming. They also should have had an onsite medic and a representative of the railway on the filming location. The lawsuit alleges that these safety violations were contrary to film industry standards, especially for dangerous filming conditions. The lawsuit asks for unspecified punitive damages.

The producers were planning to restart production in June in Los Angeles, but the film is now uncertain since William Hurt, who had raised safety concerns even before the deadly accident, pulled out of the film.

The film industry rallied around Ms. Jones' tragic death and friends and family are also calling for more safety on film sets across the country. They have started a social media campaign to try to get the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science to have a tribute to her during the Oscars.

Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorneys


If a loved one died unnecessarily due to the wrongful conduct of another, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss the specifics of your case and any steps to move forward in legal avenues to help pay for any injuries and suffering, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: dbnunley via Compfight cc

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Settlement for Electrocution Wrongful Death
Widow Wins Pastor's Wrongful Death Lawsuit

May 23, 2014

GM Product Liability Case Grows

Our Atlanta product liability lawyers are following the frightening story about GM's defective products in their cars. This story of the dangerous defects in GM cars came to national attention partly because of cases like the lawsuit over the death of a Georgia woman in 2010.

Chevy Cobalt.jpg

Brooke Melton, a pediatric nurse, died on her 29th birthday when her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt's ignition switch went from "run" to "accessory" while she was driving, which caused the engine to die suddenly. The Melton's settled with GM last year, but now mounting evidence of the defects in their cars has become more and more apparent. The Melton's asked GM to rescind their settlement but were refused and have filed a new lawsuit against GM and a Georgia car dealership in Cobb County, claiming that GM fraudulently covered up evidence and its corporate representative committed perjury in their first case. The Melton's say if they knew what they know now, they would never have settled the case. They claim that it was fraudulent to deny anyone at GM knew of the problem with the ignition switches. A GM engineer testified he did not know about a design change in the switch, which GM has since admitted is false as the company admits to knowing about the problem for more than ten years. GM denies any fraud in dealing with the Melton's though, so the Melton's stated, "The response by GM and its lawyers validates our decision. We are hopeful that this new lawsuit will uncover who at GM knew about the design change and why Brooke was never told."

Since the Melton's first case, GM recalled 2.59 million vehicles with this problem, and just this week announced the recall of 2.4 million more vehicles. This brings the total amount of GM cars recalled this year for a variety of problems, including faulty seat belts, transmissions, and air bags as well as fire hazard issues, to 13 million vehicles, which is more than the total number of vehicles GM sold in 2013. GM so far admits that the problem caused 13 deaths, but does not count Brooke Melton's death among that number. The 13 admitted deaths were front crashes where the airbags didn't deploy, while Brooke's car was hit on the side after her engine cut off.

Depending on the outcome of the Melton's second lawsuit, it could pave the way for more injured families to sue GM to reopen their cases after settlement. Already there are hundreds of lawsuits pending over these serious and deadly product defects in numerous GM car models. The Melton's attorneys hope to depose new GM CEO Mary Barra, Jim Federico, the former director of global vehicle inspection, as well as approximately a dozen GM engineers.

Atlanta Product Liability Attorneys


If you or a loved one has been hurt by a defective product, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss the specifics of your case and any steps to move forward in legal avenues to help pay for any injuries and suffering, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: AJ Hill - Blacklight Propaganda Photography via Compfight cc

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Win for Family in Product Liability Case
Product Liability For Driverless Cars

May 8, 2014

Mother of Murdered Child Sues Killer's Employer

Our Atlanta premises liability lawyers read about a truly tragic case of the kidnapping and murder of a seven year old girl in 2011. Her mother, Joselinne Rivera, filed a lawsuit in February 2012, which was dismissed by Judge John Mather in August 2013, but without prejudice, meaning Ms. Rivera could file again if she came up with new evidence.
Ms. Rivera has now re-filed the lawsuit in Fulton County State Court. Her daughter, Jorelys, was kidnapped and killed by a man employed by an apartment complex. His name was Ryan McCabe Brunn and he worked in maintenance at the River Ridge Apartments in Canton, Georgia. He abducted Jorelys and sexually assaulted her before killing her in a vacant apartment at the complex and throwing her body away in a dumpster. Brunn was arrested for the crime and confessed. He killed himself while in prison.

Prison Cell.jpg

Ms. Rivera claims that the apartment complex and McCormack Baron Ragan Management Inc. were partly responsible for Jorelys's horrific death and that he showed warning signs that should have been addressed before the crime. The lawsuit claims that the apartment and managers gave Brunn master keys, which allowed him to use a vacant apartment during his brutal crimes against Jorelys. It claims that they failed to conduct a criminal background check, didn't do a pre-employment drug screening, didn't check references or arrest records, didn't fire Brunn even after discovering he was using drugs, failed to respond to resident complaints about Brunn, and did not inform residents of a different sex offender living in the complex. On resident complaints, the lawsuit states, "Residents noticed Brunn hanging out at the two playgrounds inside the River Ridge apartment complex in Canton and staring at the young children playing." One resident allegedly complained to the management, saying Brunn was bothering the children and was a danger to them. The initial lawsuit also claimed that Brunn confessed to two people that he molested his seven year old niece. Judge Mather found that Ms. Rivera presented no evidence that McCormack Baron Ragan could have known about this molestation.
During the original lawsuit filed in 2012, McCormack Baron Ragan asserted that Brunn's violent tendencies were unknowable ahead of time and unforeseeable based on the information they had, and that he had no criminal record. They claim to have conducted a reasonable background check before hiring him. The background searches turned up nothing criminal in his past. McCormack Baron Ragan also submitted evidence that they had done a drug test, which came back negative for Brunn.

Atlanta Premises Liability Attorneys


If you or a loved one has been injured due to negligence, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss the specifics of your case and any steps to move forward in legal avenues to get any needed compensation in difficult circumstances, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Premises Liability Case to Be Decided by GA Supreme Court
Paine College Lawsuit for Negligent Security

Photo Credit: FiDalwood via Compfight cc

May 1, 2014

Doctors Still Practicing After Losing Their Licenses

Our Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers saw a worrying story about doctors who lose their medical licenses but continue practicing medicine in other states and for Medicare.

Red Cross.jpg

Doctors who have lost their licenses due to shady behaviour, and even have been in prison, continue to participate in Medicare. One highlighted in the news story was a doctor practicing in our own state of Georgia currently and people should be aware of this. Swaroop Nyshadham, a surgeon, lost his medical license in Alabama. The Alabama state medical licensure commission found him guilty of "gross malpractice or gross negligence." This finding was due to an operation he did in 2004 on an acid reflux patient with an inflamed esophagus, and the state commission found it was not acceptable. Nyshadham apparently struggled during the surgery and there was "copious bleeding" according to the complaint against him. The 36-year-old patient had a temperature of 101.4 after the operation and had a possible infection. Nyshadham was told and dismissed it as a lab error and did not order more tests. Despite this and a faster than normal heart rate, he released her to go home, where the patient was found dead the next day. The commission found he failed to meet the standard of care, and further, that he did not even understand his mistakes. The commission stated concern that these mistakes may be repeated in the future. They found his conduct dishonourable on top of everything else and his license was revoked in June 2008, and he was excluded from Alabama's Medicaid program. When asked, Nyshadham dismissed this information as a "conspiracy" to get him to leave the state.

The outrageous story continues in New York. Based on the decision in Alabama, authorities in New York charged Nyshadham with professional misconduct. Nyshadham surrendered his New York medical license in February 2009. This time, Nyshadham called it a "knee-jerk response" to the decision in Alabama.

However, despite all of this, he still practices medicine through Medicare in Georgia. After the decision in Alabama, the Georgia Medical Board required Nyshadham to attend 20 hours of continuing education and pay a fine of $5,000, but did not revoke his medical license. Medicare paid him $22,134 in 2012.

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorneys


There is a necessary trust relationship between a doctor and a patient. Regardless of the type of illness or injury, patients must have confidence in their doctor's ability to treat them, and sometimes the patient's life is literally in the doctor's hands. These cases of gross medical negligence cannot be ignored or they will be repeated. If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent medical professional, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss the specifics of your case and any steps to move forward in legal avenues to get any needed compensation through this difficult time, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Georgia Medical Malpractice Bill Being Considered
Judge Orders More Damages for Medical Malpractice Case


Photo Credit: visualpanic via Compfight cc

April 23, 2014

Win for Family in Product Liability Case

Our Atlanta product liability lawyers read about a product liability case, Ford Motor Co. v. Conley, involving Ford and a Georgia family who suffered in a single car accident in April 2006.

Ford.jpg

In December 2007, Renee and Jordan Conley filed a product liability lawsuit against Ford Motor Company in Cobb County for the single-vehicle rollover accident. Jordan was a child at the time of the accident and was severely injured in the crash. Renee is his mother. The lawsuit is also for Renee's mother, and Jordan's grandmother, Martha Pendelton, who died in the accident. During the trial in 2009, Ford objected to questions about its insurance coverage, saying only that it had sufficient resources to cover any reasonable judgment. The jury in that trial found in favour of Ford.

But then two years later, in June 2011, Ford disclosed it had excess verdict insurance coverage from several different carriers during the trial of a different product liability case. Upon learning this, the Conleys filed an extraordinary motion for a new trial based on the lack of information about insurance coverage at their trial, which prevented them from questioning jurors about potential connections to insurers. They claimed this lack of knowledge prevented them from having a fair and impartial jury hear the case. The Conley's motion was granted, finding that Ford intentionally misled the Conleys and that they had not waived their right to qualify the jury. The Court of Appeals was divided 5-5 on the question and the case went to the Supreme Court of Georgia where oral arguments were heard on October 21, 2013. Ford argued that the Conleys were not materially harmed by its answers and that it properly objected to questions about possible liability insurers because the automaker had sufficient resources to cover any reasonable judgment.

The Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision, written by Justice Nahmias, affirming the trial court's granting of the Conleys extraordinary motion for a new trial. The Court found that despite the high bar for an extraordinary motion like this one, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting it. The Court rejected Ford's argument because under Georgia law, a party is entitled to ask jurors whether they are shareholders, officers, directors, or employees of an insurance carrier with a financial interest in the lawsuit. By not providing this information, Ford prevented the Conleys of this opportunity in the 2009 trial. So now Renee and Jordan Conley will have another chance to plead their case in court.

Atlanta Product Liability Attorneys


If a dangerous product has injured you or a family member, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss the specifics of your case and any steps to move forward in legal avenues to get any needed compensation to help your family through the difficult time, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: SpeedHunter XxX via Compfight cc

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Home Elevators Danger for Children
Consumer Warning: Energy Drinks Under Investigation After Links to Illness and Death

April 18, 2014

Worker Falls to Death from Scaffold

Our Atlanta workplace accident lawyers have been following the story of Smiley Plaster Co, which has been cited by the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for unsafe working conditions. Smiley Plaster Co. is a stucco and masonry construction company in Twin City.

Scaffolding.jpg

On September 20, 2013, a 42-year-old worker for Smiley fell off a scaffolding at a college dorm at East Georgia State College and died. He was applying stucco at the time. Due to this worker's death, OSHA investigated Smiley and cited Jack Smiley, the head of Smiley Plaster, for five safety violations, which includes wilfully violating the law. Robert Vazzi, the head of OSHA in Savannah, said, "A worker died after the employer knowingly failed to provide a properly built scaffold system to protect employees from fall hazards. Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. Employers must ensure their workers are protected." There were 269 fall related fatalities in construction accidents in 2012, out of a total 775 construction related fatalities that year. Due to these dangers, OSHA has a fall prevention campaign developed in partnership with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda program.

A wilful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements or plain indifference to worker safety. Smiley's wilful violation was for a failure to provide fall protection for workers on scaffolds higher than ten feet. This violation has put Smiley on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which inspects employers who have shown indifference to the legal safety obligations for their workers.

Smiley's other violations included failing to provide adequate scaffolding foundation; failing to brace the scaffolding; and failing to provide protection from debris for the employees working on the scaffolding. These were classified as serious violations, which are ones in which there was a substantial probability of death or serious injury resulting from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Smiley was also cited for failing to report the fatality of its worker within eight hours. This was classified as an other-than-serious violation, which is one that has a direct relationship to job safety but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

For these violations, OSHA has proposed $57,000 in penalties for Smiley Plaster Co. Smiley Plaster Co. has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.

Atlanta Workers Compensation Attorneys


If you or a loved one has been hurt in a workplace accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss the specifics of your case and any steps to move forward in legal avenues to get any needed compensation to help your family through the difficult time, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Dupont Yard, Inc. Cited by OSHA
Workplace Accident Before GA Supreme Court

April 10, 2014

Poor Psychiatric Care Blamed for Killing

Our Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers read about a sad case of an elderly couple failed by the psychiatric care system at a Georgia hospital. The tragic, and possibly avoidable, case involves Alex Blatt, a 70 year old who killed his wife of 40 years, Eva Blatt, in a psychotic episode in 2012.

Doctor Hands.jpg

Mr. Blatt went to a Kaiser facility in November 2011 with psychosis, paranoia, delusions, impaired judgment, physical aggression, loose association, and racing thoughts. Staff noticed he was specifically worried about his wife. He was committed to Peachford psychiatric hospital from November 28 to December 13. During his stay, he was noted to be erratic and combative with staff. At some points he refused to remain clothed. A doctor, not party to the lawsuit, recommended a CT scan for Mr. Blatt, which was never performed. He remained agitated and easily confused. When Mrs. Blatt was told he would be discharged, she called the psychiatric hospital and shared her fears about his mental state due to the fact that he was still saying crazy things. The hospital assured her that he would not be released if he was a danger. The next day they released him with several prescriptions. A week later, he went to a Kaiser facility again because of pain in his feet and one of his prescriptions was reduced. That prescription, for Haldol, was cancelled by a Kaiser doctor, Dr. Phu Thai, in January 2012, as was another drug, and neither were replaced with another medication. In February, another doctor, Dr. Rick Stallings, stated no follow up was needed for three months for Mr. Blatt. Then on March 19, 2012, Mr. Blatt had a psychotic episode and killed Mrs. Blatt and tried to kill himself by slitting his wrists. He is currently in Gwinnett County Jail for murder awaiting his trial.

Mr. Blatt and his brother-in-law, Murray Deutsch, have filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia, Inc, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc, the Southeast Permanente Medical Group, Inc, and the two doctors, Dr. Phu Thai and Dr. Stallings. They claim Mr. Blatt had the fatal psychotic episode due to the lack of follow up and lack of replacement medicine for his condition. The lawsuit claims, "Mr. Blatt now suffers from severe guilt, anguish, and emotional pain and suffering as a result of his actions while in a severely psychotic state." Mr. Blatt and Mr. Deutsch are seeking punitive damages from a jury trial on their medical malpractice case.

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorneys


If you or a loved one has been hurt by a negligent medical professional, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. Medical malpractice cases are often complicated and require expert testimony. To discuss the specifics of your case and any steps to move forward in legal avenues to get any needed compensation to help your family through the difficult time, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: Life Mental Health via Compfight cc

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Judge Orders More Damages for Medical Malpractice Case
Antidepressant Suicides and Homicides Could Result from Medical Malpractice of Atlanta, Georgia Doctors

April 1, 2014

Settlement for Electrocution Wrongful Death

Our Atlanta wrongful death lawyers read about the tragic case of Adriana Rhine who was electrocuted to death at a fountain on a Georgia college. Adriana was 19 years old and with her three year old son, Zi'Quan, on campus.

Electric Shock.jpg

The tragic incident happened in September 2012 on the campus of South Georgia Technical College in Americus. Adriana was a student, but that day she was on campus to donate blood and see her sister, Jasmine, for her sister's birthday. Jasmine was also a student. Adriana and Zi'Quan were waiting for Jasmine, and the little boy was playing with a blue ball. The ball rolled away and into a fountain. The fountain had a single knee high barrier chain, and it had previously had spouts of water several feet high. Adriana stopped Zi'Quan from chasing the ball and went to get it for him. When she reached into the water to get the ball, she was electrocuted. Little Zi'Quan was near her, watching as she struggled. She screamed for help, but passers-by who tried to help had to let go because they were being shocked too.

Adriana's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit last May, hoping that others would not be injured or killed by this danger. Investigations found issues with the wiring for lighting and the motor beneath the fountain. Officials require inspection when fountains are built to make sure of safety, but then maintenance is left to the owner. Adriana's family argued that the fountain was dangerous due to poor maintenance, which allowed the water to carry an electric current that killed Adriana. If fountains are not maintained, experts said that the water could send a charge of 110 volts into someone touching it. There was notice of the danger of this particular fountain, as well, since only one month before Adriana's tragic death another student was electrocuted after falling in the fountain, and the person who rescued her was also shocked.

The state settled the lawsuit last November, paying the family $1.4 million. The family got $1 million, the maximum in Georgia under the law. Zi'Quan also received $400,000 for the emotional distress of witnessing his mother's death. The family says that the $1.4 million will be in a trust fund for Zi'Quan, who is now living with his grandmother.

Regardless of the tragedy, some students would like to see the fountain running again, with an explicit sign saying keep out of the water. But they are expensive to maintain and for now the fountain is still empty and the knee high chain is still there.

Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorneys

If a loved one has died unnecessarily due to the negligence of another, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. To discuss the specifics of your case and any steps to move forward in legal avenues to get needed compensation, contact the Law Office of Sammons & Carpenter as soon as possible at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation today.

Photo Credit: nathangibbs via Compfight cc

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Widow Wins Pastor's Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Basketball Player Sued for Wrongful Death